Angela Kennedy insists her decision to appeal a conflict-of-interest charge won’t get in the way of her campaign to run for re-election as Toronto Catholic school board trustee.
Kennedy is one of eight incumbents of the troubled TCDSB. She’s vying for a spot in Ward 11 (East York/Toronto) come October’s municipal elections. The board has been under provincial supervision since 2008, when news surfaced its trustees had struggled to balance its budget since 2004. Kennedy confirmed Friday she will appeal Ontario Superior Court Justice Lois Roberts’s August conflict-of-interest ruling against her.
“There will be no problem with me focusing on the students,” Kennedy said. “I’m able to … put everything I have into it. People say I’ve done a good job so far, so there’s no reason why I wouldn’t do the same good job as I did before.”
Candidate Kevin Morrison has a problem with the job she did before. Morrison has two elementary-school-aged daughters enrolled in the TCDSB. He described a promise Kennedy once made to improve outdoor signage at St. John Catholic School. Months went by and he said the new signs never materialized. Morrison added that it’s Kennedy’s dealings with Catholic parents that make her a risky choice for re-election.
“Angela Kennedy cannot be trusted to exercise good judgment,” he said. “Our children deserve better.”
According to proceedings in Ontario Superior Court, in 2008, trustees Kennedy, Oliver Carroll, and Barbara Poplawski participated in discussions regarding a $5 million staff-cutting measure. It later surfaced that all three trustees had children working within the board.
Critics say the cuts would have affected their employment, hence conflict of interest. Carroll was removed from the board last year, while Poplawski is expected to go to trial in September for allegedly breaching the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
In late August, Kennedy maintained she would not seek re-election. Murielle Boudreau, of the Greater Toronto Catholic Parents Network, questions Kennedy’s behaviour.
“Her words cannot be trusted and we’re very disgusted with it,” she said. “It’s become a power struggle or something. This (election) is about … putting trust back in trustee.”
If re-elected for a fourth term, Kennedy said she plans to restore the board’s transparency, in part, by posting trustees’ expenses online. She added that trustees need to be better advised on decorum. She admitted that, in the past, that trustees “have not fully understood their role and responsibilities, and we didn’t have a code of conduct in place that was strict enough.”
But candidate Morrison and Boudreau both say the Catholic community is looking for sweeping change.
“When we get this election done, and hopefully get a bunch of new trustees, we can start fresh,” Morrison said. “There’s a time to heal, and that time to heal starts Oct. 26.”